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HERNANDEZ v. PENN

July 30, 1975

Rafael HERNANDEZ and Ralph Hernandez, Petitioners,
v.
Robert C. PENN, Commissioner of Human Resources, City of Buffalo and the City of Buffalo, Respondents


Elfvin, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ELFVIN

OPINION AND DECISION

ELFVIN, District Judge.

 This is a motion by petitioners for an order enjoining the termination of employment of petitioners until such time as petitioners exhaust their administrative remedies.

 Each petitioner was appointed into a position under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973 ("CETA"), 29 U.S.C.A. § 801 et seq. Such employment has been terminated on the ground that said appointments were in violation of the rules against nepotism.

 After being duly notified by respondent Penn that they were to be discharged because of violation of nepotism regulations, they requested a hearing. Informal public hearings were held before a Special Grievance Committee consisting of five disinterested citizens, at which petitioners were present and made presentations. The Committee's report unanimously recommended the approval of respondent Penn's decision and petitioners were then discharged.

 Thereafter, petitioners instituted proceedings in this court under CETA and Amendments V and XIV to the Constitution for injunctive and other relief and have moved for a preliminary injunction enjoining respondents from terminating petitioners' employment until such time as petitioners shall have exhausted their administrative remedies.

 Petitioners base their application for a preliminary injunction on two grounds: (1) that the termination of their employment on the ground of violation of nepotism regulations was illegal and in violation of their constitutional rights under the said Amendments; and (2) that they will be irreparably injured unless they are granted such preliminary relief.

 At the outset of the analysis of the applicable law, it should be noted that it has been held that this Court has jurisdiction of a case such as this even though there is a question whether the case meets the requirement that the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $10,000, as provided by 28 U.S.C.A. § 1331 (Deutsch v. Hewes Street Realty Corporation, 359 F.2d 96 (2d Cir., 1966); Spock v. David, 469 F.2d 1047, 1052-3 (3d Cir., 1972).

 In a proceeding such as this, before the Court may grant a preliminary injunction, it is traditionally required that the petitioners present sufficient facts to persuade the Court (1) that they have a reasonably strong case on the merits and a good chance of ultimate success; (2) that there is a probability of their suffering irreparable harm if they are not granted the preliminary injunction they seek; and (3) that they have exhausted their administrative remedies, if a public administrative agency is involved.

 Inasmuch as petitioners have failed to present sufficient persuasive facts as to items (2) and (3) for the reasons explained below, it becomes unnecessary to pass upon item (1), that is, the claimed illegality and unconstitutionality of their discharge from their positions.

 As to items (2) and (3), the only affidavit submitted by the petitioners is an affidavit of counsel, the pertinent portions of which read as follows:

 
"(a) petitioners will lose the income from their positions while they resort to an administrative appeal to the Secretary of Labor. Moreover, petitioners are not in a financial position to not work while this appeal is proceeding, and would therefore, have to search for another job, thus making the ultimate result that they may never return to the position they now hold and wish to keep.
 
"(b) since the administrative and, if necessary, court proceedings may be lengthy, petitioners [respondents?] will be forced to fill their positions with someone else."

 These explanations as to petitioners' claims that they are in danger of suffering irreparable harm, and that respondents should be enjoined while petitioners pursue their administrative remedies must be balanced against the harm that may be caused to the public interest in preventing a Congressionally instituted public agency from carrying out its policy of discouraging and, if possible, preventing nepotism to creep into its work force with possible, if not probable, lowering of the morale of its workers and some loss of confidence by the public in the agency which has been given such an important task in this time of economic distress as referenced in Sections 801 and 841 of Title 29 of the United States Code. Section 801 states that it was the purpose of the Congress "to provide job training and employment opportunities for economically disadvantaged, unemployed, and underemployed persons, and to assure that training and other services lead to maximum employment opportunities and enhance self-sufficiency by establishing a flexible and decentralized system of Federal, State, and local programs." Section 841 states: "It is the purpose of this subchapter to provide ...


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